Swindon dance school raises £5,000 for GWH radiotherapy unit

By Jessica Durston - 22 July 2022

CharityArts and Culture
  • The Estelle School of Dance team with their cheque of £5,000 at the radiotherapy unit open day

    The Estelle School of Dance team with their cheque of £5,000 at the radiotherapy unit open day

The Estelle School of Dance have raised funds for GWH's radiotherapy unit with their production of 'The Slipper and the Rose.'

The dance troupe were invited to present the cheque for £5,000 at 11am outside the radiotherapy unit at The GWH Community Open Day during its open day on Saturday 16 July.

The Estelle School of Dance is a small dance school in Swindon run by Pat Bennett.

Pat opened the school on her 20th birthday, back in 1958, and has run it by herself ever since. Every two years they perform a show at the Wyvern Theatre in aid of a chosen charity.

After the show in 2016, fundraising started for the 2018 production, which would coincide with the school's 60th Anniversary.

Pat decided that she wanted to produce 'The Slipper and the Rose' musical, which is tells the story of the character Cinderella. Being a predominantly female dance school, the search was on for a Prince Charming so Cinderella could go to the ball.

Eventually a perfect Prince was said to have been found in Jacob Taylor, and rehearsals started.

The Wyvern was booked, all sets and scenery had been ordered from London, deposits had been paid, and costumes were being made. Then, a month before opening night, Pat Bennett was rushed into hospital with a twisted bowel and had to undergo major surgery.

It was hoped that the show still might be able to go ahead, however, with Pat playing the evil stepmother, her daughter Jen Bamford being the musical director and her granddaughter Alex Bamford, Cinderella, it was felt it would be impossible to carry on. It unfortunately had to be postponed, resulting in quite heavy financial losses.

Pat recovered and was back teaching in September, and a new date for the show was booked for March 2019.  However, the school had lost its Prince who had gone back to Yorkshire, along with a few of the older dancers who were starting or going back to university.

The dance school say they were fortunate to find David Higgins to play Charming, and the show ended up being a success.

Patricia Daniels is the mother of a dancer at The Estelle School of Dance.

She said of the fundraising event: "Cinderella eventually did go to the ball, and with ticket sales and with some avid fundraising, even with the losses incurred, we raised an incredible £5000.

"It has been a real emotional roller coaster, and has been especially poignant for me. My own daughter has been dancing with The Estelle School of Dance since the age of two. She has played many of the main parts such as Peter Pan and Pinocchio, and was meant to have been in this production.

"She wasn't able to as she'd returned to university, and was sadly diagnosed in 2020 with an osteosarcoma and had to undergo many xrays, scans, chemotherapy and surgery, all in Oxford.

"This unit would of been a godsend for her, but it will hopefully help many others in a similar situation to my daughter and allow them to be treated in Swindon.

"We are very proud to be able to present this fabulous amount to such a worthy and deserving charity and contribute to the buying of the much needed scanners."

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